Finger, Hands and Lives Tangles Together

I am quiet on the ride this morning. I focus more on the landscape than I did yesterday; it is beautiful here. A goat stands tall on its hind legs reaching for food, the lower branches of the tree have been another’s meal. In the distance, I see a few small hills. At their foot, deep red grass zigzags meandering towards the wadi (riverbed) below. The red is close to a color I have seen before in the mountains of the West – Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona. A dark gold and lighter brown fill the space between the red and dark, almost black, rock reaches to the peak. I can’t seem to take my eyes from the hills. At this moment the ride seems almost smooth as I take it all in.

outside classroom Today is a school day and I am eager to visit. We approach a math class sitting outside and I recognize one of the girls from our visit yesterday at Fatina’s. She greets me with a smile, “Kadija!” I begin to film, and they all want to see themselves. After a while I look up and notice no one else is around but the kids. I had distracted them from schoolwork and they too had brought me to a different place. I meander through the schoolyard, entering classrooms and attempting to ask students for their names. As I enter one classroom, they stand and sing, belting out the words as if for a concert. I stay with them for a while.

big eyes Later in the morning, I am trying to catch up to Gabriel and Suzanne for a meeting with Yakoub and teachers about secondary education. A group of kids are following me; I am smiling and laughing with them. I have to stop. I put my hand out again, as I did 10 minutes earlier. With a shy smile, the young girl hesitantly approaches. She, quick, fakes like she is going to slap my hand, but pulls it away – the universal game of high five! I place my hand out again but pull it away as she moves in. This time I leave it there, she brings her fingertips to rest on mine, then another girl brings hers, then another, then another, they come running and giggling – my hand holds at least ten small hands; it disappears below their arms. We huddle giggling, arms and hands and fingers tangled together. I can’t stop laughing, and for the second time today I feel as if my world belongs only here in this moment.

On the trip back, one of our vehicles in the convoy gets stuck in the sand trying to pass a truck broken down on the “designated” path across the wadi – several men get out to push. Still laughing from commentary about the experience, we pass a large herd of cows. Two playfully knock their foreheads together, sweeping the ground with their chins; another rears, as if saying, “play with me too!” It takes me back to our visit today.

Anima and KTJ The adults want primary school resources and secondary education, the youth group wants no more broken promises, and the kids want to play. And today I wanted to play. There is never enough time in a day, in a week, in a year or a lifetime to do everything. But we should always make time to play. To smile, giggle, cry and hold those we love. Our brothers, sister, mothers and fathers living here want so many similar things that we desire. And, together we are all stronger.

Holding the Hands of Your Community Here,
KTJ

PS – James or Piper – if you are reading this, can you please send word to Lisa the next time that you see or hear from her. I am thinking of her, Day Dream Farm and the animals in So. Oregon and hope there has been enough heat, water and food this winter. I hope Yachats and the other goats are enjoying their new shelter. A special hello to them from the goats over here!

Katie-Jay keeps i-ACT running on several levels. Much of her work entails coordinating partnerships with other grassroots organizations and implementing the campaigns developed by Gabriel and seeing through the details. She graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Sociology and a focus on Community Development. She has previously worked as a community organizer in Thailand, Guatemala, and with grassroots organizations across the United States.

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9 Responses to “Finger, Hands and Lives Tangles Together”
  1. Nellie Davis says:

    KTJ,
    I can’t believe you are actually there. It must be so amazing. It’s such a different world from ours. You are a very strong and loving person. You are doing a wonderful and selfless thing for these people in need. If only we could all be that way. Keep those children laughing and stay safe. I look forward to future postings.
    Nellie

    • katie-jay says:

      Nellie!

      When I met Zainab, Adam’s 20 day old baby, I thought of all the women I know who have babies or, like you, are preparing to have one! There are so many children here and I can’t help but want to touch them and love them and want to play with them. I seem to stop thinking about the fact that I am in a refugee camp and just begin playing with them. I hope you are well, I am sure getting bigger! Can’t wait to see you when I return – let me know when we are having the baby shower at the house!

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi, KTJ!

    I felt like the landscape, livestock, and laughter were all around me as I read your post! How special the moment you related of the endearing hands you held and the giggles you shared in your school girl huddle. Wish you’d had some web cam capability for that moment. So much learning comes from play. Such simple exchanges can be so powerfully bonding . . . thanks for sharing.

    Adieu,

    Lisa

  3. Tiffany Wheeler says:

    Hey you!

    Today as I read, I did it allowed for all in the room to hear me. There were times I had to stop and regain my voice before I continued. There is such purity in these stories. I read about hands interlocked and gun shots breaking the night silence. I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear that. I can’t imagine what it would be like to look in the face of thousands of kids, I can’t imagine what the school concert would sound like with all the kids smiling back at me:) I know that its real though and I know that I can see it with a pure and true light that these people are not numbers they are people. Something I hope so many people that I am surrounded by start to understand. I makes me want to do more, but much more humble and powerful work. Work focused on the purity of it, and on the beautifulness of their lives. I have reread this post more than once to gather the visual filled with your details!!

    Much love to all of you…

  4. Barbara Scott says:

    Thanks KTJ for your wonderful word pictures. Love you. Grammie

  5. stacey martino says:

    Ktj,
    I read your journal with my daughter in a swing at my feet. I am trying to read your journals and satisfy my child’s very real wish to play. I so want to close down this computer and grant my daughter’s wish. The same daughter who I conceived 2 days after returning from the camps last year. I tell her that mommy needs to be on the computer because little children just like her need our help. I laugh a little to my self remembering she is only 3 months old but then I remember that children are born enlightened and our job is to keep their light on. You did that today. You helped keep their light on. You reminded us that we are all the same. We all want to take care of our families and allow them the simple pleasure of play. The people of Darfur had it harder than 90% of the world right now but I know their day will come thanks to the efforts of people like you. Thank you for being there, opening your heart so wide and reminding the people that you meet both in the camps and through your journaling that we are indeed the same. Paz, stace

    • katie-jay says:

      Greetings Stace!

      The emotions I am feeling must be so similar to those you felt in your first days of i-ACT2. The kids come running, from every direction “ca va?” “ca va?” and waving their hands. You can’t help but want to hold and play with each one. Thanks for your continued support and I am glad that you have been able to view the videos! From one tech guru to another – solidarity!

  6. shiroma says:

    Girl- i watch you every day! i can’t express how moved I was as I watched you with those children. I do believe in the healing power of laughter as I use it in my own work. Thank you for having the courage to do what we only wish we could. I’ll keep you posted as to when the party will be. Actually, I am thinking Fri Feb 1, what do you think? Everyone is going to the beach this weekend so I have to wait until next. Pass along my number to brenda and jen, I would love to have them here. Also, the hat is sexy too.
    oxoxoxoxo K

  7. Kathleen Scott says:

    Joy and love flowing through playful fingers! Your writing puts me there, I feel like I’m on every step of your poingant visit, thank-you for your beautiful writing and beautiful soul. I’m closer to the people of Darfur because of you.
    Love, Ommi

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